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Pakistan Consul General Ahmed Amjad Ali Image Credit: Ashfaq Ahmed, Gulf News

Dubai: Pakistan has completed its repatriation mission from the UAE as more than 60,000 stranded people have flown back home during the last three months.

“We are pleased to announce the completion of our mission of repatriating Pakistanis from the UAE,” Consul General of Pakistan Ahmed Amjad Ali told a press conference held at the Consulate on Saturday. He said that airlines including the national flag carrier PIA and the private airline Airblue will resume regular flight operations between the UAE and Pakistan from June 28. Consul General Ali said that UAE-based airlines would operate flights as per their convenience.

“Out of around 60,000 passengers, some 30,229 passenger have flown back from Dubai using 138 PIA flights while around 10,000 have been repatriated by the UAE based airlines and some 20,000 by PIA from Abu Dhabi,” Ali said, adding that this is estimated number as he did not have exact number of passengers flown from Abu Dhabi and by the UAE based airlines.

Apart from passengers, the consulate has also repatriated 208 bodies of Pakistanis while 52 bodies of people who died of COVID-19 were buried in the UAE.

The consulate gave 561 free tickets to destitute passengers with the help of business community while 460 people were given temporary accommodation. Most of them were job seekers who came on visit visas. The consulate also distributed 17,000 free ration packs amongst the poor Pakistanis during the last three months.

The consulate also gave 350 laptops to poor students at Pakistanis schools to help them continue online learning. More than 80,000 Pakistanis in the UAE had registered with their mission requesting for repatriation in the wake of COVID-19.

“Since the lockdown has been eased in the UAE, most of the stranded people do not want to go back home as they have started to find jobs in the UAE,” he said, adding that they even faced difficulty in the flights with full capacity during the last one week.

From June 28, passengers will be able to book flights online or they can go to the airline offices or travel agents.

Consul General Ali also announced to resume the normal consulate services from July 1. “We will be fully open from July 1 to offer all consular services including renewal of passports, ID cards, attestation and visa services,” he said.

He also thanked the UAE government for extending full cooperation in the largest repatriation mission in the history of Pakistan. “I am also grateful to my staff and volunteers who worked for three months without taking any off days to ensure smooth repatriation process,” he added.

At least seven staff members were also infected with COVID-19 and half of them later came back to work after recovery. “Even the PIA General Manager in the UAE Shahid Mogul also contracted coronavirus during the repatriation mission,” he revealed.